A few months ago, my wife bought me a new notebook. It had a picture of Batman on the front.
To be honest, it wasn’t really my thing. I prefer a plain black one – perhaps I’m boring that way.
Also, given that it was embossed with a Batman logo, I wondered if that was a bit much and that perhaps people would think I thought I was Batman (I don’t’ think I am) or that I had some superpowers (I don’t think I do) or that I really, really liked Batman (I don’t – just a normal amount!).
And so I left it in with a stack of books on a table and pretty much forgot about it.
As I headed out this morning, I realised that I’d lost my current notebook – my plain, black boring one – the one I like. Ordinarily that would have sent me into a tailspin – probably a combination of obsessive-compulsive disorder and… actually, not a combination of things, just the obsessive-compulsive thing.
However, without an alternative – it was that or nothing – I went with the Batman notebook.
The next eight hours of the day were spent on a train journey. (And, if you’re wondering where on earth I went in the UK on a train for eight hours then that would be a very valid question!) Anyway, during that time, I considered my new notebook and that – although it was representative of a superhero – it actually represented much more than that.
I don’t know is this is what the makers of the Batman notebook-thing had in mind when they put it on the shelves, or what my wife intended when she bought it for me, but here’s the conclusions I came to:
- Superheroes aren’t real. They’re just make-believe. And as much as you or I might – at times – wish we were superheroes, they only exist in comics, on TV or in films. So probably best not to beat ourselves up when – at times – we don’t get things absolutely right. After all, we’re not superheroes. They’re not real.
- Some people may appear to be superheroes but they’re not. You know the ones I mean? The ones who, if you dropped them down in the middle of the jungle (or equally difficult situation), could find their way out. The ones you could put into any career or role and they’d make it a success. The ones who seems to have good luck after good luck. Those people might trick you into thinking that they’re superheroes, but they’re not. See #1.
- There’s 7 billion people on the planet. And, for the most part, 99.999% of people get up every morning and just try to do the best they can, for them and their family. They don’t need superpowers do that and, even if they did, then they’d just be normal, like everyone else. Normal powers.
- There are 10 x more stars in the sky than grains of sand on all of the beaches and deserts in the world. Which, along with the fact that there are 7 billion people in the world, all just trying to do their best, is one of the most effective ways I know to realise just how tiny a role we each play in the universe and so, perhaps, to not take things too seriously.
- Work and life aren’t about trying to be a superhero. And it’s often easy to think that it is, like we have to reach a certain level or goal. That unless we do so, we’ll fail and be cast aside with the mere mortals whilst the superheroes go on to great success after great success. But that’s not true. Everyone is just doing the best they can. Superheroes aren’t real.
- Sometimes (most times) you won’t get it right first time. There’s a fallacy that it has to be perfect, that it has to be just right and that if it’s not, then better to keep it locked away until such time that it is perfect or right. Nonsense. Far better to get started and acknowledge the fact that it isn’t perfect whilst you work to improve it along the way.
- You can’t trust in superheroes but you have to trust in something, During his 2005 Standford Commencement address, Steve Jobs said, ‘You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it gas made all the difference in my life.’ (See the video here) Great advice.
- Everyone has a backstory. And just like the superheroes, it’s each person’s back story which leads them to the point that they’re at in the present. With a unique skill set and knowledge which is specific to them. Perhaps we don’t need to go in search of superpowers but acknowledge that those same unique skills and knowledge are powerful in their own right.
- You may not have superpowers but it doesn’t mean you can’t do super things. Those things tend to come when you do something you enjoy, that is rewarding and which makes a positive difference.
- I don’t think I’m Batman, I don’t have superpowers and I like Batman just a normal amount. However, I do like my book. I like it because it reminds me that superheroes aren’t real, that although some people appear to have superpowers, they don’t realy. They along with everyone else are just doing the best they can and that we all play a tiny role in the great unfolding. That work and life isn’t about being a superhero, just about finding something that you enjoy, which creates value and allows you to live the life you want.